Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2034336
 


 



Manufacturing‐Focused Emissions Reductions in Footwear Production


Lynette Cheah


Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences

Natalia Duque Ciceri


Materials Systems Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Elsa Olivetti


affiliation not provided to SSRN

Seiko Matsumura


affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dai Forterre


affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rich Roth


Materials System Laboratory

Randolph Kirchain


Materials Systems Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

February 20, 2012


Abstract:     
What is the burden upon your feet? With sales of running and jogging shoes in the world averaging a nontrivial 25 billion shoes per year, or 34 million per day, the impact of the footwear industry represents a significant portion of the apparel sector’s environmental burden. This study analyzed the carbon footprint of a familiar consumer product, a pair of running shoes. A single shoe can contain 65 discrete parts that require 360 processing steps for assembly. While brand name companies dictate product design and material specifications, the actual manufacturing of footwear is typically contracted to manufacturers based in emerging economies. Using life cycle assessment methodology, this effort quantified the global warming potential burden of a pair of shoes and mitigation strategies were proposed focusing on high leverage aspects of the life cycle.

Using this approach, it was estimated that the carbon footprint of a typical pair of running shoes made of synthetic materials is 14 ± 2.7 kg CO2‐equivalent. The vast majority of this impact is incurred during the materials processing and manufacturing stages, which make up around 29% and 68% of the total impact, respectively. By comparison, a person emits the equivalent amount of carbon by using a 100‐watt light bulb for a week.

For consumer products not requiring electricity during use, the intensity of emissions in the manufacturing phase is atypical; most commonly, materials make up the biggest percentage of impact. This distinction highlighted the importance of identifying mitigation strategies within the manufacturing process, and the need to evaluate the emissions reduction efficacy of each potential strategy. By postulating the causes of manufacturing dominance in the global warming potential assessment of this product, this study described the characteristics of a product that would lead to high manufacturing impact. Thereby, the work explored how relying solely on the bill of materials information for product life cycle assessment may underestimate life cycle burden and ignore potentially high impact mitigation strategies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: Manufacturing vs. materials, uncertainty, life cycle assessment, footwear, carbon footprint

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Date posted: April 5, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Cheah, Lynette and Duque Ciceri, Natalia and Olivetti, Elsa and Matsumura, Seiko and Forterre, Dai and Roth, Rich and Kirchain, Randolph, Manufacturing‐Focused Emissions Reductions in Footwear Production (February 20, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2034336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2034336

Contact Information

Lynette Cheah
Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences ( email )
1 Pesek Road
Jurong Island, 627833
Singapore
Natalia Duque Ciceri
Materials Systems Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
Elsa Olivetti
affiliation not provided to SSRN
No Address Available
Seiko Matsumura
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Dai Forterre
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Rich Roth
Materials System Laboratory ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
Randolph Kirchain (Contact Author)
Materials Systems Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
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